NORTH GIPPSLAND FNL
NORTH Gippsland football returns on Saturday following the competition’s general bye, with the highlight of round nine the showdown between premiership contenders Sale City and Yarram.
Coming into the contest on the back of a shock defeat at the hands of lesser ranked Gormandale, Sale City coach Hayden Burgiel is aware his side is in for another stern challenge this week.
“The top five to six is pretty tight, you can’t afford to drop games that you should win,” Burgiel said.
“This week we will be looking to get back that game that we lost, we will get back six in the line-up which should have us at near full strength, but we know that it won’t be an easy contest.”
Burgiel will look to reset his side ahead of a tough two weeks with Rosedale waiting in the wings for the round one replay.
Before then Burgiel will focus on the Demons, with the City coach confident his line-up will have Yarram’s match.
“If we can deliver fast movement into our forwards and use our pace around the ball to our advantage we should be able to gain an edge over Yarram,” Burgiel said.
“Our game styles are different, we know that we need to contain their forwards with (Justin) Staley and (Corbin) Sutherland keys to their structure. If we don’t do that we will be behind the eight ball from the start.
“We need to shut down Grif Underwood who is their main man, their main ball controller, if we can keep him to 20 to 25 touches for the game that would be a good result.
“There will be a lot of pressure on the midfielders, we need to make sure that we click into gear early on.”
Sitting in second position following the side’s 91-point thrashing of Cowwarr, Demons coach Anthony Pavey knows this week’s match is worth more than the traditional four points.
“We go into the round sitting in second, but if we drop the points this week we could slide and find ourselves in sixth position at the end of the round,” Pavey said.
“The competition’s that tight you have to take your chances.”
Pavey will need to fill the void of a number of key omissions through injury and availability.
Among the big losses are Andrew Kiely, Louis Rodaughan and Jari McDonald.
McDonald was called up to Gippsland Power.
“We have a few out, some that will be another week or so away, but those that have come into the side are still holding their own,” Pavey said.
“We will miss the likes of Louis and Jari, the improvement throughout the season has come from the kids and Kiely has been a very important player for us also.”
Like a game of chess, Pavey has strategically studied this week’s opposition and knows that his side will need to negate the run the Dogs generate on the rebound from half-back.
“We need to shut down their run, their link up and carry of the back line, they play on quickly and use their pace from the backline,” he said.
“Hopefully our forwards in Justin Staley, Ryan Underwood and Keifer Sutherland are a real strength in the contest then throw into the mix the likes of Grif Underwood and Matt Clavarino.”
Cowwarr v Rosedale
RETURNING home after a disappointing performance on the road, Cowwarr will host a red-hot Rosedale outfit which made light pickings of Churchill in a strong 19-goal showing last round.
The Saints have shown they can match it with the competition’s front runners, but must put in a sustained four quarter effort to cause an upset against the ladder leader.
With an iron tight defence and strong engine room, the Blues appear to have the Saints’ measure around the ground and should maintain their hold at the top of the premiership standings.
Heyfield v TTU
HEYFIELD will host Traralgon Tyers United in a crunch game for the Bombers.
Sitting inside the top five, one game behind the third-placed Kangaroos, the Bombers’ season has been one of mixed fortunes.
While boasting a win-loss ledger of 5-3 the Bombers have claimed just one top five scalp in Yarram, and have struggled to match it with sides above it.
TTU’s finals ambitions may lean on this result.
The side has scrapped together some gutsy wins with a piecemeal line-up thanks to an endless list of injuries, but it will take a polished performance to knock over the Kangaroos on their home turf.
Woodside v Gormandale
THE big cats will do battle when Woodside and Gormandale compete for the Toms Cap Cup.
Sitting at the tail end of the premiership ladder standings, both sides have recorded two wins to date.
The Tigers’ confidence is growing following a win over Sale City, while the Wildcats need to refocus after a 20-goal thrashing at the hands of TTU.
With plenty at stake for both sides expect Gormandale to make it two-in-a-row.
Churchill v Glengarry
CHURCHILL will be hungry to bounce back from a hefty defeat at the hands of Rosedale in round eight and play itself back into form to secure a finals berth.
Sitting one game behind the leading quartet this week’s encounter against Glengarry will be viewed as an opportunity for the Cougars to bolster their percentage and jump up the table.
There will be little let up for the Magpies defence, which felt the full effects of Heyfield’s forwards in a goal scoring frenzy two weeks ago.